Oscar Wilde’s Lipstick-Covered Tomb Cleaned Up

renovated tomb of Oscar Wilde Reuters

Actor Rupert Everett and Oscar Wilde’s grandson have unveiled a makeover of the writer’s gravesite on the 111th anniversary of his death.

Everett, who is writing about the poet’s life, spoke at a podium Wednesday bearing a poster of the pre-renovation tomb covered in notes and lipstick at Paris’ famed Pere Lachaise cemetery.

The tomb had become such a well-loved pilgrimage site — and had been so well-kissed — that it needed renovation. A glass screen now separates visitors from the stone itself.

Everett hailed Wilde’s “force” and the “amazing trajectory of his life.”

Grandson Merlin Holland said his grandfather “would be incredibly touched by all the attention. After all he was sent out of England in 1897 a bankrupt, a homosexual and a convict … and the French took him to their hearts.”

The monument to Wilde, who died in Paris aged 46 in abject poverty, features a flying naked angel inspired by the British Museum’s Assyrian figures. Although the angel was vandalised in the early 1960s, the tomb was relatively unscathed until 1985, when the graffiti started, with lipstick grease eventually beginning to erode the stone.

Holland spoke of his mixed emotions at the monument in its restored state: “The graffiti was done with love, which is an unusual phenomenon.

“Graffiti tends to be protestatory. Other graves of people who are admired tend to get little bits of paper with notes scribbled and flowers. The kissing phenomenon is reserved entirely for Oscar. [I am] deeply touched that this man who had been … hounded out of England is now adored by all his fans. But the destruction of the monument was terrible. It was such a mess … this is just not the way to show your love for him.”

Everett, whose films include adaptations of The Importance of Being Ernest and The Ideal Husband, said the graffiti “response” goes beyond admiration for Wilde’s genius as a writer: “He is the patron saint of anyone who feels a bit outcast. He’s quite comparable to Edith Piaf … as a sufferer. What you know about Wilde is about injustice and being brought down.”

In September Everett plans to begin shooting his own screenplay about Wilde. He will take the lead and direct, with a cast that includes Colin Firth, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson.

After four years of research, he has focused on Wilde’s last three years. Singling out earlier films about Wilde – by Robert Morley, Peter Finch and Stephen Fry – he said: “All other films stop when [Wilde] goes to prison. I think that’s partly because the heterosexual world … still can’t face what they did to him … after [Wilde] came out of prison, if an Englishman saw him in the street he was absolutely entitled to go up and slap him or spit at him … everybody abandoned him.

“It’s the most extraordinary story – and a very short time ago … I think people can’t really face that side of him. It’s too cruel.”

Epstein’s monument has been the subject of controversy since the beginning. Its original unveiling caused a scandal.

Holland said: “The Paris cemetery authorities took one look at the angel’s private parts and … covered it up with a great big wodge of plaster. They wouldn’t uncover it until something had been done about it. Epstein was furious and got all sorts of French men of letters to write to the press and say this is an outrage, this is a work of art and it’s being regarded as an obscene statue. It wasn’t until 1914 that the thing was finally removed.”

Everett said he has loved Wilde, who died in 1900, since childhood, when his mother read him stories such as The Happy Prince: “Then I had a lot of luck with him as an actor.

“Oscar was like all stars. He was like a flesh-eating orchid. He’s probably one of those people who eats all the energy in a room. He leaves satiated and you leave exhausted. I don’t know if you’ve met stars who are like that. They take the energy … nothing in a bad way. It’s just how they are. They feed off people.”

(AP, The Guardian)

Fire Alarms Interrupt NBC’s Newscast

NBC News anchor and former volunteer firefighter Brian Williams doesn’t expect to hear alarms during his day job.

He did Tuesday night, when an audible fire alarm from a floor below the “Nightly News” studio in New York repeatedly interrupted the newscast.

Spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said Wednesday that it was a drill, but that technicians couldn’t immediately turn off studio loudspeakers. “Nightly News” moved into a new studio a month ago.

Alarms went off twice as Williams read a story about American Airlines. He flashed a bemused smile the second time and said, “We should remind our viewers that there’s no danger to us.”

After the problem was fixed, Williams redid the broadcast for non-Eastern time zones.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

NY Film Critics Pick ‘The Artist’ Best Film

The New York Film Critics Circle has named “The Artist” the year’s best film.

The black-and-white ode to silent film, which itself is silent, also earned best director for Michel Hazanavicius. The nods for “The Artist” are likely to give a boost to its already promising Oscars prospects as the fall award season begins in earnest.

The critics otherwise spread the awards around, as they usually do. Brad Pitt won best actor for his performance in the baseball film “Moneyball” and in Terrence Malick’s cosmic drama “Tree of Life.”

Both of those films also earned other awards: “Tree of Life” for best cinematography and “Moneyball” for best screenplay.

The New York critics announced their annual vote Tuesday on Twitter. The awards will be handed out at a ceremony Jan. 9.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comedian Patrice O’Neal Dies, Suffered Stroke

Comedian Patrice O’Neal has died in a New York-area hospital from complications after suffering a stroke last month. He was 41.

O’Neal’s manager, Jonathan Brandstein, says the comedian died Tuesday morning. He says in a statement many people “have lost a close and loved friend” and “all of us have lost a true comic genius.”

O’Neal appeared on Conan O’Brien’s and David Letterman’s TV shows and was a frequent guest on the “Opie & Anthony” radio show on Sirius XM.

His performance was a highlight of last summer’s Comedy Central roast of Charlie Sheen.

Sheen says in a tweet, “The entertainment world as well as the world at large lost a brilliant man.” He says his tears “are for the tremendous loss” to O’Neal’s “true friends and loving family.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

UK Fashion Council Honors Sarah Burton

The British Fashion Council has honored Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen as Designer of the Year for 2011.

The council says Burton — who earlier this year drew praise for designing Kate Middleton’s much-heralded wedding dress — has honored the late McQueen’s legacy as creative director while “still giving her own twist of creative genius” to a collection that “outshone its rivals on and off the catwalk.”

The glitzy, star-studded event at London’s Savory Hotel on Monday also honored Paul Smith with the Outstanding Achievement in Fashion award to recognize the designer’s impact on the industry.

The council called Smith “inspirational” and a “true icon” for all he brings to fashion.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Burning Man Lottery Ticket System Debuts Monday

The Burning Man festival on the Nevada desert may still be nine months away, but organizers’ new lottery system for ticket sales will debut Monday.

Organizers say registration begins Monday and ends Dec. 11 for those who want a crack at 3,000 “pre-sale” tickets at $420 each.

Those securing a ticket will be notified no later than Dec. 19.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports the bulk of the tickets will be sold in a second lottery, whose results will be announced by Feb. 1. Registration for that sale starts Jan. 9.

Up for grabs at that time will be 10,000 tickets for $240 each, 15,000 tickets for $320 each and another 15,000 tickets for $390 each.

Organizers say the first sellout in the event’s 26-year history is prompting the new system.

——

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

2013 Ford Mustang Revealed at LA Auto Show

Ford’s been continuously improving on its Mustang every year or so, refining the styling, adding new engines and drivetrain upgrades, and expanding the line with new variants. However, with a brand new generation due in time for the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, one has to wonder how much life is left in the current model.

Turns out there’s still plenty to get excited about as Ford is rolling out a revamped version of its iconic muscle car, which debuts this week at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show before going on sale next spring as a 2013 model.

Summing it all up is the Mustang’s chief engineer, Dave Pericak, who states, “the new Mustang is the perfect example of continuing to build on excellence. It takes the greatness of the 5.0-liter and V-6 and pushes the refinement to the next level.”

The 2013 Ford Mustang offers a more aggressive design with a significantly more prominent grille, a new splitter and body-colored rocker panels. The rear has been updated with a high-gloss black panel that connects the tail-lights, while the lenses themselves get a new smoked appearance.

Also new for the Mustang are standard high-intensity discharge (HID) head-lights on both V-6 and GT models, as well as LED detailing front and rear. The standard wheel size on the base V-6 is 17 inches but the available V-6 Performance Package and the GT model offer wheels measuring up to 19 inches.

One interesting feature is the side mirrors, which feature a pony projection light. These cast the image of the Mustang’s famous pony emblem on the ground when the unlock button is activated. New colors — Deep Impact Blue and Gotta Have It Green — also join the existing color palette for 2013.

Inside, customers will be able to opt for new Recaro seats (the same ones from the Boss 302 and Shelby GT500), premium audio options, and there’s now a handy 4.2-inch LCD integrated in the main instrument cluster. This screen features a special option called Track Apps, which delivers performance metrics for drivers right from the factory. The app measures g forces, shows acceleration times in quarter-mile and 0-60 increments, and displays braking times, complete with automatic and countdown starts.

Okay, now the part we’re sure you’re most interested in: the engine department.

The base Mustang remains equipped with a 3.7-liter V-6 and develops 305 horsepower. The GT, however, sees its 5.0-liter V-8 uprated to 420 horsepower.

The best part is that all automatic Mustangs now feature SelectShift, which allows the driver manual control of the gears. Manual models, meanwhile, get a new hill start assist. With the brake pedal pressed, if sensors detect the car is on a slope, the system is automatically activated. Brake pressure is held in the braking system and the car remains stationary on the slope for up to two seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal.

But the story doesn’t end there. Ford is also launching a new GT Track Package for buyers of manual-equipped Mustang GTs with a 3.73 axle. The pack includes an engine cooler, upgraded radiator, performance friction brake pads and the same Torsen differential that’s on Mustang Boss 302. The package includes everything in the current Brembo Brake Package, with 14-inch vented front discs, unique 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires.

For full details on the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302, click here, and to read up on the 650-horsepower 2013 Shelby GT500, click here.

Look out for the debut of the 2013 Ford Mustang range at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, full coverage of which you can access here.

This story originally appeared at Motor Authority